Socks… everyone wears them, but how often do you really think about them? Okay, you may be one of the growing population of sock lovers who has a different “flavor” sock for every occasion. But chances are you just slip on a pair in the morning and go about your day.
Stop right there! There’s a lot more to socks than meets the eye. Enter compression socks, your new best friend! They aren’t just a trend. They’ve actually been shown in studies to help certain populations of people, such as pregnant women and seniors. Even athletes have reported improved performance with them.
Sound interesting? Here’s what you need to know about them and why you should consider adding a few pairs to your wardrobe.
What Are Compression Socks?
Whether you’re a runner, a pilot, a nurse or a senior citizen, there’s a compression sock out there for you. Therapy socks work in a very simple way: they reduce the diameter of certain veins and help to increase your circulation.
If the blood in your legs isn’t flowing the way it should, it can lead to some serious problems. Issues may include swelling in your legs, muscle cramps, tingling, numbness, and other associated pain. In rare cases, varicose veins can actually form blood clots, so see a doctor if you have a family history of varicose veins.
So what’s the magic of them? Well, most people first turn to a change in shoes to correct ailments and circulation issues. But the fact of the matter is you may be able to improve your health just by changing the way you wear them! Of course, a properly fitting pair of kicks is critical to muscle, spinal and overall health. But sometimes improved health means little more than just wearing the right one.
How They Work
Obviously, your legs and your feet are the lowest parts of your body. And while your heart works hard to circulate your blood, some conditions – as well as simple gravity – cause the heart to have to work extra hard to draw the blood from your lower extremities. This can cause your blood to pool, meaning discomfort for you. Swelling and edema, numbness and muscle pain are not uncommon.
Therapy socks help your body defy gravity. Typically, these are tighter at the toe and get slightly loose as they go up to your leg. This allows your heart to work a little less hard to keep your circulation flowing in a healthy and normal way.
Depending on your physical needs, activity level and lifestyle, you may need to talk to your doctor about which level of support you need in a compression sock. There are different types of them, and it’s always a good idea to get feedback from your physician before you wear them.
Who Can Wear?
Compression socks are more than just a fad, they’re a medical necessity! Senior citizens, post-surgery patients, pregnant women, and many more demographics have been wearing them for decades. That said, rest assured – today’s therapy sock isn’t your grandma’s sock. There are hundreds of styles on the market that are stylish, sexy, cute or flirty – the type you choose is up to you. Find socks for work like these Chevrons or keep it basic with classic black.
So who’s wearing these socks? Well, grandma and grandpa still benefit from a good one. So do post-surgery patients and pregnant women. But literally anyone can benefit from them. Athletes who want to improve circulation love these socks. Nurses and line workers who are on their toes all day, pilots and flight attendants who operate at high elevations love them, too. And those who are beginning to see signs of varicose veins will benefit from therapy socks, too!
We mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating one more time: please check with your doctor before you wear compression socks if you have a medical condition! He or she can recommend the right level for your unique needs.
Socks for Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral Neuropathy is a big name for a simple disorder: its nerve damage. When the nerves outside your spinal cord and brain get damaged, it can cause numbness and tingling, a sort of pins and needles effect. Compression socks may be able to help you combat the pain associated with Peripheral Neuropathy, so talk to your doctor about whether this treatment can work for you.
Don’t forget about your shoes, too! In this case, you may need to treat your Peripheral Neuropathy with both compression socks and a new pair of them If you have any questions, you can always consult with a podiatrist to determine what type of foot support you need.
Plantar fasciitis is an incredibly painful condition that affects an estimated 2 million people in the United States alone. When pressure is placed on your fascia ligament (that ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot) you’ll experience soreness and even debilitating sharp pain.
If you decide to wear compression socks for your plantar fasciitis, you can notice an improvement in the amount of pain you feel within just a few weeks. Again, your shoes are going to be super important. Make sure you have the proper arch support for the shape of your foot.
Can Help Prevent Shin Splints
Health socks can reduce the discomfort and pain associated with this issue by promoting blood flow and preventing swelling and stiffness.
Wearing these socks could get you back on your feet and pounding the pavement again in no time.
Great If You Are Off Your Feet for Long Stretches of Time
In addition to people who experience medical conditions, compression stockings are also used after surgery and for people who are off their feet for long stretches of time.
When you are forced to lay or sit, these can have a positive impact on your blood circulation. If you are immobilized because of surgery, health socks are used to keep the blood from pooling in your legs.
Certain occupations also keep people from moving the way they should. Truck drivers, pilots, flight attendants, and others can benefit from these socks and the increased circulation they offer your body.
Pregnant women will also wear these socks to help with their circulation—whether they are sitting.
Since pregnancy has a huge impact on a woman’s body and how it functions, these socks can decrease pain and swell in the legs, as well as reduce the chances of varicose veins from forming.
As noted, they come in a variety of levels of compression. Now, the compression level is different from sock size. This will determine how much pressure is being put on your body. In some cases, it will also determine which ailments your therapy socks might prevent
In general, the levels range from 8 mmHg to 40 mmHg. It’s absolutely best to speak with a professional if you’re not sure which level of compression you need. Some people may just need light support, while others may need a more heavy-duty level of support.
Typical Compression Levels
There are three levels you’ll typically find in stores and online. These are:
- 8-15 mmHG
- 20-30 mmHG
- 30-40 mmHG
Shop around. If your ankles are swollen by the end of the day and/or your legs feel achy and tired, then you’ll want to consider getting socks in the 20-30 mmHg range. These can also help reduce the chances of developing varicose veins, edema during pregnancy, and other conditions.
If you get socks that are made from 65% nylon and 35% Spandex, they will be comfortable and smooth against your skin. Generally speaking, these fabrics are safe even for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
Finding the Right Pair
If you think that health socks sound like something you need in your life, then you might be wondering how to find the right pair. Below are some steps you should take to find your perfect compression sock.
Step 1: Determine the Level
If you need it for daily wear, for recovery after medical issues, to help with sports performance or to manage mild symptoms, then the 20-30 mmHg is your good option. These are also ideal for varicose veins and swelling in the legs. However, you don’t have to have a condition to wear these socks. They can also prevent issues from occurring.
Step 2: Choose the Height
Health socks come in various sizes and heights, ranging from knee-high to thigh-high, or covering the whole leg. Deciding which one is good for you will depend on where the swelling occurs. If you only have problems in your feet and ankles, then a knee-high sock will suit you just fine.
Step 3: Choose Your Style
These socks come in a variety of colors and material types. There are both men’s and women’s dress compression socks that can be worn to work, or you can get nylon/Spandex blends for sports and everyday wear. Having a pair that will go with everything will allow you to wear them whenever, wherever.
Compression Socks and You
In the past, you probably didn’t put too much thought into your socks. So long as they fit and protect your feet, they were fine, right? Well, now’s the time to look a little further into how they can work for you.
Compression socks are growing in popularity, but they’ve been in use for decades. Whether you have a medical condition, are an athlete or just want to improve your circulation, there’s one out there for you. They’re available in all sorts of styles and patterns, guaranteeing you’ll find something you love.
You deserve to put your feet up and relax at the end of a long day. Why not let therapeutic socks help you do just that?!